Palm’s latest device is the Treo 500v, a Windows Mobile smartphone that is being launched on the Vodafone network all over Europe and some other places in the world, too.
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After a small logistical hiccup that lasted 4 weeks, this device arrived in my hands a couple days ago. I received the white version (the 500v also comes in black).
A New OS
As a die-hard Palm OS bergeek, I was very interested to see how I would handle a Windows Mobile 6 Standard device. Let me tell you I am very pleased, even impressed.
For the very first time I was able to experience 100% keyboard and/or 5-way nav navigation. Sure enough, some settings are not in the places I expect them to be, but that’s because I haven’t played around enough yet.
Comparing this model to the earlier Treo 680, the new model is wider, shorter, and substantially thinner.
Looking at the specification sheets, it is even thinner than a Centro which was billed as the thinnest Palm ever — 0.73 inches for Centro versus 0.65 inches for the 500v.
Treo 500v uses a screen with a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels, This has a landscape orientation, but that doesn’t mean it’s unusually wide; it has a comparable width to the one used in the 680. The smaller vertical resolution simply means that the 500v’s display is a third smaller.
The display is a normal LCD, not a touchscreen.
The brightness of the screen is more then enough from what I could see, but I haven’t had the opportunity yet to check how it behaves outside, especially in direct sunlight (It’s not really the time of the year here for a lot of sun).
The Keyboard does not have the curved layout used in most of the earlier Treos but has the same straight set up as used in the Centro.
Even as a seasoned 680 user, I did not have any problems using the 500v’s keyboard. It does give me a funny feeling when I’m using it since the keys are a little harder to press. The backlight of the keys is also noticeably brighter than on 680.
From researching on the Web I can conclude this device will be available in QWERTY and QWERTZ layouts, and maybe more.
This device is equipped with a camera able to capture pictures up to 1600 by 1200 pixels, which translates to a bit less then 2 megapixels.
Video, however, can only be recorded at 320 by 240 pixels.
Setting up the 500v was the part where I got my first big problem: the install CD would not start on my laptop. It kept complaining about the need to have FlashPlayer 8 or above installed. I already have FP 9 and even removing and reinstalling would not resolve this problem.
Net result: no manual since it needs to be installed from the CD. But I did manage to get ActiveSync installed. Using a second PC gave more promising results. I have not yet completed installation there but it at least revealed where I could retrieve the manual from: Palm’s web site.
This Treo’s microSD card slot is hidden under the battery. I’m not sure from Palm’s spec sheets if it supports SDHC, nor what the maximum allowed capacity is.
There’s no switch to quickly silence the ringer, though the power button on the top can be used to make a menu pop up where this can be selected.
The 500v has Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, but there’s no Infrared port.
It includes a 1200 mAh battery, the same as the one in the Treo 680, but slightly higher capacity than the Centro’s.
According to the included paper documentation, the Treo 500v will initially be made available in following countries:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
It seems to be available for ordering from Vodafone’s web site now, but it is not clear to me if it is actually shipping in all of the related countries. It is definitely available in the U.K. and Germany; that I was able to confirm.
Reviewing Vodafone’s web site in the U.K. it becomes clear where this smartphone is going to be positioned. With a price of 0.0 GBP, this is definitely targeted at an entry-level market, but you need to agree on a 18-month contract to get the device for free.
Various contracts are available, ranging from as low as 20 GBP up to 75 GBP per month (roughly 40 to 160 USD). Take into account that is only for voice and texting. If you want to use data, you need to add about 10 USD per month for 120 Mb. Additional capacity can be purchased using Vodafone Live! through your device.
In Germany the device is being sold for 50 EUR with a 34.95 EUR per month for a 2-year contract, 400 EUR without contract.
Unfortunately my Greek, Italian, Spanish and whatnot are not good enough to verify the offers for the other countries where this device is going to be released.
The device is normally locked to Vodafone networks only. Although Belgium is not on the list of approved countries, I was lucky enough to get it to work since my current provider Proximus is affiliated with Vodafone.
Full Review in Progress
I am now using this device as of now as my main tool to really test it in real life conditions.
In case there are any specifics things which should be looked into, feel free to let me know so I can try to take this into account during the testing.